Microsoft is making a bid to be its own hardware manufacturer. That hasn’t exactly paid off the way the company has been hoping; the Surface Pro was widely critically praised and just as widely ignored by consumers. But Microsoft is pushing ahead, full speed ahead, with new gear. Including, supposedly, a smartwatch. Here’s what’s been leaked.
1. It’s Got A Big Screen
Apparently, Microsoft isn’t trying to pretend that this is a watch sitting on your wrist. It’s got a rather long screen, not unlike a Surface shrunk down to fit around your wrist. Which is somewhat fitting, we suppose, and at least it’s something different in a market that’s seeing a lot of competition pile up fast.
2. It’s Running Some Form Of Windows, But It’s Not Clear What
Until we get a look at the guts, it’s not clear what software this will run, but we’re betting on Windows Phone, even if Windows RT could be a possibility.
3. It’s Bluetooth So It Can Be Cross-Platform
Not the most surprising choice, but the watch’s main way of getting in touch with the world is through Bluetooth 4.0. That’s fascinating not least because it means Microsoft is designing the watch to an open standard. It makes us wonder if this will be a closed product, or whether it will be more friendly with the gear you already have; the test product is cross-platform, but these things can change in the blink of an eye. Either way, though, it’ll be friendly to your Microsoft products in a big way.
4. It’ll Tie Into Pretty Much Any Microsoft Product You Own
The grand plans for connectivity include, well, everything, but especially Microsoft products. This will supposedly even have features that tie it into the Xbox One. That’s got some promise, especially if Microsoft plans to tie it to other features, such as syncing with the Surface or collecting data for video games to create some feedback. Among other ideas, it might work with the Kinect to, for example, have you steer a car in-game by moving your wrist.
5. It Has A Lot, And We Mean A Lot, Of Sensors
Smartwatches are usually light on the sensors, but not this one. It’s got a gyroscope, GPS, accelerometer, and a heart rate monitor built into the main watch, and a galvanic skin response sensor built into the wristband. So it can both locate you precisely in time and space, and offer up data on how where you are makes you feel. That’s an… interesting choice.
6. It’s Not Just A Concept
Word is that this won’t be in the testing phase for very long, and for excellent reason. It seems unlikely that Microsoft will announce anything this week; E3 is in full swing and the company is trying to build more momentum behind the Xbox One. But it also seems likely that a few test models are at the conference and will be out in the wild… and it’s telling that Microsoft issues smart wristbands to the crowd at its press conference.
Dan Seitz is an obsessive nerd living in New England. He lives in the Boston area with a fiancee, a dog, a cat, and far too many objects with processors.